I made granola today for two of my favorite kids who are off to college for the first time this year: Jane at University of Vermont and Sam at Purdue. It’s hard to believe they are old enough for this step in their lives, particularly since Jane was the 3-year-old flower girl in my wedding, but indeed it has come to pass. And two nicer kids you’ve never met.
And so we must be sure that they are well-nourished while they’re away and that they know that even people beyond mom and dad are thinking of them, wishing them well, remembering their own first weeks at college and expressing their care and affection in the form of food, as God intended.
Of course you can adapt my granola to your tastes by changing the nuts and/or the dried fruit. You can add coconut or wasabi or whatever crazy thing you come up with. My favorite way to eat granola is over a bowl of berries with some yogurt but I think you will find that this particular recipe lends itself to just eating by the pinch every time you walk by the cooling pan. If you’re not going to use it right away, put it in a zipper bag and throw it in the freezer.
Makes about 5 cups, or 1.5 pounds
1 cup walnuts, (or pecans) roughly chopped
1 cup almonds, roughly chopped
3 cups quick oats
1 teaspoon maple extract (or vanilla or almond extract, or a combination)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cherries
Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix first 3 ingredients together in a large bowl.
Heat maple syrup, oil, vanilla and salt together in a small saucepan, whisking occasionally, until warm (alternately heat in microwave for 1 minute). Pour mixture over dry ingredients; stir with spatula until mixture is thoroughly coated. Turn onto a large cookie sheet, spreading into an even layer.
Bake, stirring once or twice, for 20 minutes, or until nuts just begin to color and mixture has lost some of its dampness. Remove from oven and add raisins and cherries. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.